Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract This study examines factors affecting chimpanzees' preying on termites, especially their choice of prey species. Regular surveys of a large sample of termite-mounds in the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania, confirmed that chimpanzees of B Group obtainedMacrotermes, which were relatively uncommon, by the use of fishing-tools, but ignored the much more abundantOdontotermes. This preference appeared to reflectMacrotermes' more extended swarming period, greater accessibility, larger size, and less noxious taste than the soldiers ofOdontotermes. Similar factors probably underly the chimpanzees' choice ofMacrotermes at Gombe, butPseudacanthotermes spiniger are also common there, and their absence from the diet is less easily explained. In contrast, the chimpanzees of K Group at Mahale prey mainly onP. spiniger;Macrotermes are apparently absent, andP. spiniger appear to be more abundant, accessible, and palatable than the alternativeOdontotermes.
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